Judge Rejects Rudy Giuliani’s Effort To Reverse $146 Million Defamation Verdict

A federal judge on Monday rejected an effort by Rudy Giuliani to reverse the jury’s verdict in a defamation suit against him, requiring the former personal attorney to Donald Trump to pay the $146 million judgment to two Georgia election workers he’d falsely accused of election fraud.

In a 48-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said that Giuliani’s attempt to get his verdict overturned was based on “threadbare” arguments and “falls well short of persuading that ‘the evidence and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom are so one-sided that reasonable men and women could not have reached a verdict in [Giuliani’s] favor.’”

In December, a jury in Washington, D.C., awarded a total of $148 million to Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss after Giuliani was found liable for defamation earlier that year for spreading lies that the two women committed election fraud while they were counting ballots in Georgia’s Fulton County after the 2020 election. The two Black women sued him in 2021, saying the former New York City mayor “orchestrated a sustained smear campaign” that resulted in racist threats and harassment.

Howell later reduced the final judgment to $145,969,000 after Freeman and Moss reached a settlement agreement with another defendant in the case, the right-wing OAN network. The judgment included compensatory and punitive damages “for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress caused by Giuliani and his co-conspirators,” Howell wrote Monday, saying that the lawyer, who led multiple failed attempts to overturn Trump’s reelection loss, still owes the two women the nearly $146 million, plus post-judgment interest.

Just one day after he was ordered to immediately pay the judgment in December, Giuliani filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York. The filing “halted all proceedings in this case, including plaintiffs’ right to ... seek prompt enforcement of the judgment against Giuliani,” Howell wrote on Monday.

According to the judge, the bankruptcy court in February then granted Giuliani’s request to continue litigating the case, “despite the utter failure of Giuliani to comply with his discovery obligations and related orders in this lawsuit or to pay a dime in the attorney’s fees imposed for his discovery abuses ― after multiple opportunities were extended for him to do so, over the course of months, leading, ultimately, to entry of default judgment against him on liability on plaintiff’s well-pleaded claims.”

At the time, Giuliani’s spokesperson said that the bankruptcy filing should not be a surprise because “no person could have reasonably believed that Mayor Rudy Giuliani would be able to pay such a high punitive amount.”

Giuliani does not appear to have responded yet to Monday’s ruling.